Staff and administrators from Dignity Health St. Mary Medical Center in Long Beach met with local elementary school students Jan. 26 to kick off the weeklong Great Kindness Challenge, a yearly nationwide campaign to encourage students to engage in small daily acts of kindness to help make the world a kinder place.

The Great Kindness Challenge is part of an anti-bullying initiative created by the non-profit organization “Kids for Peace.” Participating students were asked to complete 50 acts of kindness during the week, such as offering to help the school custodian with a task, writing “Thank You” notes to the school nurse or donating a book to the Long Beach Public Library, among dozens of other thoughtful deeds. 

Nearly two million students enrolled for the 2015 Great Kindness Challenge, resulting in approximately 100 million acts of kindness in schools nationwide. Locally, St. Mary Medical Center partnered with Addams, Bixby and Birney elementary schools in Long Beach to help support their kindness efforts.  

 “We’re very happy to partner with these schools to promote service, kindness and emphasizing the value of ‘paying it forward’ in the community” said Joel P. Yuhas, president and CEO of St. Mary Medical Center. “The Great Kindness Challenge is just another way we at St. Mary’s live out our mission and values.”

Physicians and staff at St. Mary’s also participated in the challenge by collecting food donations for the Foodbank of Southern California, and clothing donations for various local charitable agencies that provide support services for the homeless.

“We’re delighted to be sponsoring and supporting a powerful and positive education program that we hope others will embrace,” said Yuhas.